Should You Have a Protein Shake Before or After Your Workout?
Protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth.
For this reason, many people consume protein supplements in the form of shakes along with their workouts.
However, the optimal time to have a protein shake is a hotly debated topic.
Some believe it’s best to drink a protein shake before a workout, whereas others argue that after a workout is ideal.
This article explains whether it’s best to have a protein shake before or after your workout.
People Who Exercise Need More Protein
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 g/kg) of body weight (1).
The RDA is the estimated amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid a deficiency. It doesn’t specify the amount needed to optimize body composition or health.
For protein, it’s clear that the RDA is much too low to support muscle recovery and growth.
In fact, research suggests that people who routinely strength train may need double the RDA, or 0.72 grams per pound (1.6 g/kg), to support muscle recovery and growth.
For a person weighing 150 pounds (68 kg), this equals 109 grams of protein per day.
To optimize your results, spread this amount over three to four meals that are consumed every three to four hours.
A protein shake is a good option between meals, either as a snack or around your workout. They typically contain 25–30 grams of protein per scoop.
People who exercise regularly need more protein to support muscle recovery and growth. Consume your protein at equally spaced times throughout the day.
Does the “Anabolic Window” Matter?
Many people believe drinking a protein shake within 30 minutes of exercise will maximize their results in the gym.
This 30-minute window, commonly known as the “anabolic window,” is a short period of time in which your muscles are like a sponge for protein.
The thought is that if you consume protein outside of the anabolic window, your body won’t effectively utilize it or build muscle.
Research now suggests that this anabolic window of opportunity is much longer than 30 minutes and may not be limited to after exercise.
In fact, it may not matter if you drink a protein shake before or after your workout in terms of optimizing muscle repair and growth.
It was previously believed that protein had to be consumed within 30 minutes of a workout for your body to use it. Recent research suggests that this may not be the case.